Your Digital Identity Checklist: 5 Do’s and Don’ts 💼

Blogpost by Noel Czempik (Student Digital Champion)

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Taking charge of your digital identity is now more crucial than ever. Safeguard your privacy, strengthen your security, and unlock potential professional opportunities with the short guide below.

1. Review Your Privacy Settings

Take advantage of tools that allow you to display your content as it’s visible to your audience, customise privacy settings for individual posts or modify what information can be used to search your profile. You can read this article for more information on the privacy settings available on the most popular social media sites.

2. Share Thoughtfully

Don’t solely rely on privacy settings. Think before posting, considering the potential impact on your reputation and safety. Be cautious of content that could be misinterpreted or taken out of context, and don’t share sensitive personal information unnecessarily.

3. Monitor Your Digital Footprint

Regularly search your name online to assess available information. Consider setting up alerts for new mentions or content associated with your name.

4. Curate Your Content

Align shared content with your desired digital image. Remove or update outdated or irrelevant information.

5. Build a Professional Online Presence

Showcase skills and achievements on professional platforms, maintaining a professional tone and image in your communication. For example, you can add certificate of completions for LinkedIn Learning courses on your personal LinkedIn account. For multi-purpose platforms, consider creating separate profiles for personal and professional use. If you are interested in building a LinkedIn profile, a recording of the Careers Services’ LinkedIn session is available here.

For further information about managing your digital identity, you can watch the Careers Services’ session on this topic from the Digital Skills Festival.

Begin a new chapter – Apps to help your reading habits 📖

Blogpost by Shân Saunders (Digital Capabilities and Skills Development Coordinator)

With the advancement of phones and technology there’s now an app for everything – including reading! As an avid reader I like to challenge myself with yearly goals, discuss books with fellow readers and gain reading stats. With my top three reading apps – all of these are possible! 

  1. Goodreads  

Goodreads is great for tracking your current reads and staying on track for your reading goals.  

  • Set yourself a yearly reading challenge and Goodreads will tell you whether you’re on track. 
  • Track your current reads to see how far through you are.
  • Receive a badge if you reach your goal. 
  • View books you’ve read in previous years. 
  • Create reading shelves for your needs like “want to read”. 
  • Scan book covers instead of searching for them. 
  • Discover new books based on your recent reads, new releases and trending books.  

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Digital Decluttering: A Student Guide To Organising your Digital Spaces

Blogpost by Noel Czempik (Student Digital Champion)

Most of us engage with digital devices daily, and just like our physical spaces, they often become home to clutter, affecting our wellbeing and productivity. In this blog post, I will share the most effective strategies for reclaiming my digital spaces.

Preparing For Your Decluttering Journey

  1. Try approaching your clutter with curiosity rather than judgment. This will help you stay positive and better understand your digital habits. Visualise the positive impact decluttering will have on your wellbeing.
  2. Expect this process to take time. Sorting through years of accumulated digital content can be daunting, but sizing up the challenge and allocating the right time and space can make it more manageable.
  3. Start with the quick wins that will make the most immense impact with minimal effort. This will allow you to build up momentum and approach the more difficult tasks with empowerment.
  4. Consider any upcoming longer journeys as opportunities to make progress on your decluttering adventure.
  5. Deciding what to keep and what to delete may be challenging. Ask yourself what would happen if everything were to disappear?

Quick Wins: Small Actions Can Yield Big Results

Each of these 5-10 minute tasks is beneficial alone, but as you progress through the list, their impact compounds for greater effect.

  • Cleaning your desktop: Delete unnecessary files and find a home for the rest to achieve the bliss of an empty virtual desk.
  • Decluttering your apps: You might be surprised at the number of apps on your phone or desktop that you no longer notice. Uninstall any apps you don’t use to free up space and minimise distractions.
  • Customising your home screen: Make apps that you want to use often more accessible and hide ones that are likely to distract you by using folders. Consider adding shortcuts to quickly access lists such as shopping, gift ideas or business ideas lists, preventing you from adding to the clutter with every stroke of genius.
  • Reviewing your notification settings: Disable unhelpful notifications to avoid overloading your lockscreen.
  • Customising your taskbar and quick access bars: Delete or unpin features you don’t find useful to implement your organisational systems.
  • Cleaning your downloads folder: Eliminate unnecessary files and duplicates to free up space.
  • Decluttering your browser: Remove unused extensions and bookmarks to streamline your browsing experience and pin the tools you’d like to use more often. Consider clearing your cookies and cache to protect your privacy, keeping in mind you might get signed out or remove saved preferences on some sites.
  • Clearing your screenshots: The screenshot folder is often a catch-all for single-use files.

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Digital Detox: Rebooting My Digital Lifestyle 📵

Blogpost by Noel Czempik (Student Digital Champion)

In my journey to digital wellbeing, I found myself at a crossroads, dissatisfied with the evolving relationship between technology and me. Once a source of joy for facilitating connections and enriching experiences, it gradually became a frustrating and anxiety-inducing presence. Attempting various strategies, from greyscale displays to setting reminders, proved futile; my devices continued to dominate my time, now laced with guilt and a sense of personal failure, far from the fascination of my early experiences with technology. What had changed?

Swipe Wars: The Smartphone Menace

In the early days of social media, logging in required a ritual—turning on the family PC, navigating through desktop layers, and patiently awaiting the slow progression of the digital world. That world could disappear at the press of a button at dinnertime or the first signs of an oncoming thunderstorm. Fast forward to today, and our devices are ever-present, always in our pockets, ready for instant engagement. The ease with which we unlock our phones without a clear purpose has turned habitual, a craving for the dopamine reward that digital interaction brings.

Initially confined to finite feeds, social media has evolved into expansive content platforms crafted to hold our attention endlessly. In today’s consumer-centric landscape, our devices are not neutral tools but deliberately designed to encourage frequent and prolonged use. While we seek engaging technology, the allure that captures our interest can sometimes work against our best intentions.

From Whoville to Screensville: How the Smartphone Stole Christmas

While invaluable in connecting us during lockdowns and holidays spent at a distance, our devices have also altered the nature of our in-person interactions. I vividly recall the post-pandemic Christmas spent with family, surrounded by screens, each of us engrossed in our digital worlds. It was a far cry from the planned festivities but a reality shaped by the omnipresence of technology.

My once-positive relationship with technology has now turned toxic, and breaking free from my phone’s grasp requires more than just free will.

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Eyes on the Prize: A Student’s Guide to Defeating Computer Eyestrain 👁

Blogpost by Joel Williams (Student Digital Champion)

Whilst computers can be excellent tools to increase and streamline a student’s productivity, staring at a screen all day can have several adverse effects. Through this post, and accompanying infographic, I hope to impart several tips which I’ve used to help make using computers a more enjoyable experience throughout my degree. In this post, I will discuss one common computer-related ailment, Eyestrain. Eyestrain can occur after extended periods of looking at the same monitor or by using a computer in a poorly lit environment.   

20-20-20 Rule  

One of the approaches I’ve found easiest to implement into my studies is the 20-20-20 rule; this approach involves taking a break every 20 minutes, looking at an object 20 feet away (don’t worry, this doesn’t need to be precise), for 20 seconds. Blinking often during this is also suggested, as this can help relax the eye muscles and further reduce the likelihood of strain.  

You can find out more about this via this LinkedIn Learning course

Reducing Blue Light  

Another method to reduce eye strain is to limit your exposure to blue light; this is because the blue light produced by screens can limit the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), which can disturb our natural sleep cycles and result in our eyes feeling strained at the end of the day. This topic is still up for scientific debate, and you can read more about it here. This is easier to setup on personal machines but with some tweaking can be used on almost any computer at the University. 

There are two main approaches to managing this: 

  • Firstly, you can use software to reduce blue light exposure; MacOS and Windows have built-in settings, Night Shift and Nightlight respectively; you can even enable Nightlight on university computers.  
  • Secondly, most monitors and laptop screens have options which enable you to control brightness and contrast, enabling you to achieve a similar result. However, if you are looking for more customisation, you can use free programs like f.lux which works on MacOS, Windows & Linux, and can provide far greater control over the tone of the screen (shown below).  

Finally, blue light glasses can also be used to filter light not only from your screen but also from the surrounding environment and can be purchased cheaply from several retailers.   

Enabling Dark Mode  

Finally, another strategy which works well on many of the programs I’ve used during my course to reduce eye strain is to enable dark mode; this can be done within both MacOS and Windows and both are designed to aid working in environments with poor ambient lighting.   

However, programs like the office suite and some internet browsers will require additional steps to change. Steps to switch Office to dark mode can be found here, and you can convert any Chromium-based browser to dark mode using extensions found in the Chrome Web Store.  

More information can be found within the Digital Ergonomics LinkedIn Learning collection, click on the image above or use the link here

Online Scams: Identifying Scam Emails and Texts

Blogpost by Jeffrey Clark (Student Digital Champion)

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The Internet is a great place to connect with friends, work on projects, and even make money. However, there are some who will use the Internet to try and make money from YOU! Unfortunately, scams are becoming more and more advanced but thankfully I’ve got you covered! In this blogpost I’ll go over scam emails, what they are, how to identify them and what to do when you find them.

Make sure to read the Aberystwyth University page on spam emails before reading this blog post.

What is a phishing email?

A phishing email is an email that is designed to obtain sensitive personal data from you. This data may come in the form of your address, credit card information, or even your bank details! Phishing emails are usually disguised as legitimate business emails like the example below.

Screenshot of a Phishing Email from TustedBank
Image from Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to see how one might fall for a phishing email like this. Firstly, the email notifies the victim that their bank account may have been compromised which prompts them to act urgently. Secondly, there is nothing suspicious about the link at first glance. So how can you tell the difference between a legitimate email and a phishing email?

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Busting exam stress with technology 💻

This blogpost has been written by Jeffrey Clark, Student Digital Champion

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That sinking feeling…

With exams around the corner, there’s no doubt that you’re all feeling the pressure. Sometimes that pressure can be overwhelming and lead to periods of high stress and anxiety. No student should have to feel like that! In this blogpost, I’ll go over some tips and useful apps that can help you and other students tackle stress during this difficult period.

Striking a balance ⚖

Here is an example of how I would organize a typical revision weekday using Microsoft Teams

It is perfectly normal to feel mild to moderate levels of stress during your time at university. There is a lot going on! From reading and writing essays to hanging out with friends, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at times. Even if you really enjoy your degree, it can still be stressful trying to find the time to manage all your modules. That is why I recommend managing your time and controlling your routine rather than letting it control you. Apps like Microsoft To-Do have been incredibly helpful to me since I’m always on-the-go. Microsoft-To-Do is a free cloud-based task management app available for desktops, Androids and Apple devices. The app contains some useful features for keeping you on track such as a customizable calendar and reminders that can be arranged in any order you desire.

Microsoft Teams also features an incredibly customizable calendar that is useful for scheduling meetings as well as keeping you up to date with your university task. Managing your time reduces stress by minimizing unpredictability and giving you the ability to work WITH deadlines as opposed to AGAINST them. Another good tip to reduce exam stress is to focus on one thing at a time. Whilst revising, focus your attention on just one of your modules a day, if you can. This makes it easier to retain information on the module that you’re studying which will make taking an exam all that easier. If you must study multiple modules, make sure you give yourself a meaningful break during your studies. Taking a break is important while studying for any amount of time. Incorporating breaks into your schedule is key to reducing stress and avoiding ‘burnout’, which we will discuss in greater detail later in this post.

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LinkedIn Learning Collections to support students preparing for their exams

As exam season approaches we have put together a couple of collections on LinkedIn Learning to help you banish the stress of exams and to help you revise more effectively.

This collection has some tips and advice to help you revise and study for your exams.

Exam season can be a challenging time for students, this collection gives you some strategies and advice for managing your stress levels around exams.

All Aberystwyth University students and staff have free access to LinkedIn Learning. Please see our login instructions and more general FAQ’s to help you during exam time

Fake News & Plagiarism: Stop the Spread! Part 1 – Foiling Fake News

Blog post by Jeffrey Clark (Student Digital Champion)

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Separating the wheat from the chaff
With millions of websites available to Internet users, it can be hard to tell which ones are legitimate. For every article on a topic that comes from a legitimate news source, there are many more articles on that same topic that are illegitimate. Sharing fake news too often can damage your online reputation, credibility, and negatively affect your academic standing. While studying at Aberystwyth University, it is important to be aware of fake news articles and how to use legitimate articles and sources correctly. This blog post will give you some useful tips on how to achieve both goals which will make your academic journey just that little bit easier. We will go over the basics of fake news, learn how to spot it, and what to do if we encounter it.

What is ‘fake news?’
There are many definitions of fake news but the most widely accepted definition is any news story that is factually incorrect or deliberately misleading. The main purposes of fake news are generating a reaction, pushing a political narrative, or for humorous purposes. It is easy to produce this kind of news on the Internet as anyone can publish anything they want regardless of its truthfulness or their individual qualifications. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to detect as it is easy to disguise a website as a legitimate news source and the rise in technology is making it easier to make other forms of news, such as live reports, appear legitimate.

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Top Tips and Technology to Support Students Living Independently

Blog post by Urvashi Verma (Student Digital Champion)

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As Welcome Week came to an end recently, I hope that you have all settled in comfortably and are getting to grips with your new schedules. This means changing some of your habits and lifestyle to accommodate your university schedule. For a student living independently for the first time, these changes can be even more difficult. From managing money to living with new people, it isn’t always plain sailing. For example, when I started living independently for the first time, I managed to turn all my white clothes into a bright shade of pink!

Through this blog post, I’m going to share with you some useful tips from my own experiences, and especially different apps and technologies that have helped me to feel more comfortable living independently.

Get enough Sleep

Trying to get enough sleep whilst also juggling your life between lectures, assignments and work can be very stressful, and it can take a long time to get used to it. Try maintaining a proper sleep cycle by going to sleep at the same time every night.

Technology: I would recommend a free app called Sleep Cycle: Sleep Recorded.This app will help you record your sleeping pattern, and you can use it to wake you up at just the right time by using an intelligent alarm clock.

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